There comes a time when each one of us must admit that, no matter how hard we try, we can no longer do it all. That is especially important when it comes to the subject of caring for our elderly parents.

Let's consider a hypothetical situation of Carol who is divorced, her children and siblings all live out of state. At the first indication that her mother could no longer live on her own, Carol moved Mom into her home and has been her sole caregiver for six years.

Carol recently had a heart attack brought on by stress and the all-too-common failure to care for herself. Her physician has advised that if she goes back to being her mother's full-time caregiver, she would likely die before her beloved parent. Therefore, before the physician will release Carol from the hospital, alternative living arrangements must be made for Mom. What does Carol do? Where can she turn for help?

Assisted Living Options

Seeing no other option, Carol arranges for her mother to be transferred to a small residential assisted living home not far from where Carol lives. The home is in a quiet neighborhood, is clean, and the residents appear to be very content in this home. The home owner prides herself on her staff to provide a warm, caring, home-like environment for her residents. As an added bonus, the homeowner is a wonderful cook who prepares almost all of the meals for her residents (or as she says, her extended family). Why did Carol choose this type of residence for her mother? She had several things to consider and talked them over with a social worker prior to making her decision.

If Mom were a very social, fairly healthy and active person, perhaps an assisted living center would be her preference. In these centers, she would have the opportunity to meet and mingle with people in her age group who are also unable to live alone and whose families are unable to take them in.

If Mom requires hands-on care, perhaps a 10-resident or less residential care home would be more appropriate. The resident to caregiver ratio is greater than the larger centers, thereby affording more individualized care. Dietary preferences are more likely to be honored in a smaller care home, and the individual residents' needs and desires are more likely to be honored.

There is help available and you do have options

There are several options available to those seeking living arrangements for their parents. But we are all to often caught up in the day-to-day details of living that we fail to look into alternatives until a crisis occurs. Where do you start? Your local Area Agency on Aging offers a variety of resources and information for family caregivers. If your church or other place of worship has a parish nurse, they can be a great source for referrals and assistance. Contact your parent's physician for a referral to a geriatric counselor or social worker. Ask your coworkers if they have experienced a similar situation and ask for their input. Get to know your neighbors – there just may be a residential care home down the street from you.

No matter where you turn for help, help is available. We often just don't know what questions to ask, much less to whom we ask. Do not put your life, and perhaps the life of your parent, in jeopardy out of a need to do it all. There comes a time when you cannot and you must not feel guilt for not having done more.

Author's Bio: 

Linda S. Thompson is the author of A Caregivers Journey - You Are Not Alone. As a professional speaker, Linda's topics include one of her more popular ones: "The Power of Reverse Psychology-or How to Talk Your Elder Loved One Into Accepting Change." She can be contacted through her website. For more information about Linda's books, Workshops in a Box, and lecture topics, along with other free articles, please visit her website at